Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unexpected Meeting

Back on Saturday I went out for an hour ride up highway 1 and back home.

On my way back home I stopped in at B&L to pick up a skewer for my rear wheel. As I was standing in the bike shop talking to one of the mechanics, I suddenly noticed Dr. Serge Keska walking towards me. Dr. Keska was one of the guys who put my hip back together.

Back when I was in the hospital, struggling my way through life, he'd stop in every day or two to assess how I was doing, provide treatment as necessary, and if required give me a kick in the pants. When I think back to my lowest day in the hospital, the day that it became clear that my nerve damage was a very real thing that wasn't going to get better just because I wanted it to, I remember him telling me that he wasn't sure that I had the fortitude that was going to be required to get through this thing. To this day I don't really understand why it matters how much fortitude you have, when all you can do is lie in a bed and suffer. Regardless however; his challenge helped me pull myself together, adjust my perspective on life, and get through what was in front of me.

When I saw Serge, I introduced myself using my first name. He shook my hand and asked how I was doing. I thought he knew who I was, but I guess he was still a little unclear. He asked me for my last name and then all of a sudden his eyes lit up. His first reaction seemed to be surprise that I was out riding my bike. We talked a bit about how things were going with my recovery, how my hip was performing, how my knee was doing, etc. He took off on the remainder of his ride south, while I finished up with my business at B&L.

As I was leaving the shop on my bike I could see him up ahead on the road. Bad hip and all I was able to catch up to him without over exerting myself. We rode together through Solana Beach and Del Mar. Every now and then he would look over at how I was riding, seemly a little disbelieving of the fact that I was riding with him and doing so without screaming out in pain.

Bottom line, it was a really nice surprise to run into someone who had such a positive impact on my recovery. Without Serge's perspective on what it takes to recover from the sort of injury I had I'm not sure I would have come through it as well as I did.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back on the Rollers

After a couple false starts I finally got all the parts I needed to put together a rear wheel for exclusive use on my rollers:

1 used 10 speed Campagnolo Chorus cassette off ebay $56
1 existing Mavic Open Pro wheel with American Classic hub - free
2 trips to the bike store to get the right Campagnolo lock ring - frustrating
1 trainer specific tire - $25
= I'm back baby! I'm back!

Sunday I got on the rollers for 15 minutes or so. I was a little surprised as to how well balanced I was on the rollers. I didn't have to take my hands off the bars once and did a pretty good job of not drifting all over the place. My left leg is still a lot weaker than my right, so I was worried that the rollers were going to expose the difference. When you're riding on rollers, any sort of imbalance or inconsistency in your pedal stroke is instantly apparent, that's why they're so good at helping with the roundness of one's pedaling. If you can't keep things smooth you're going to be on the ground pretty quick. It was reassuring to find that even though my right leg is weaker than my left, I am doing a good job of trying to keep my right leg from doing more work than my left.

As with many things in my trek to cycling revival, I'm finding that I'm right back to step 0 with yet one more thing; my ass' ability to take it on the bike with any sort of consistency. Saturday I'd headed outdoors and ridden up and down highway 1 for an hour or so. Sunday when I got on the rollers and tried to ride I felt like I had the newbie tailbones I had when I first got back into biking a couple years ago. Ideally I would have liked to ride the rollers for 30 minutes, but 15 was about all I could handle on Sunday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Slowly Getting Stronger

I spent about 55 minutes on the bike today. I needed a Campagnolo lock-ring for a indoor specific rear wheel I'm putting together, so I figured I'd ride down to B&L Bike rather than driving.

There were a couple things of note from today's ride:

1. I can finally pedal while standing up. I can't get a lot of power into my stroke, but being able to stand is a nice step forward. I've been getting more and more ability to control my ankle the past couple weeks. I've also been spending a little bit of time on the elliptical machine; which simulates the same motion as pedaling while standing. It would appear that the added strength and control is starting to pay dividends.

2. I knew I was in the best shape of my life when I crashed my bike, but I don't think I ever really appreciated just how strong my cardiovascular system was. For example, 7 months ago I would have been able to apply at least 50% more power than I did today while keeping my heart rate about 25 beats per minute lower. My point being that my current aerobic capacity is amazingly bad, even though I've been exercising pretty consistently for a month or so. I knew I had a long, long way to go to get anywhere near where I was. Today really brought all that home.

My hope is to get back to riding on my rollers sometime this week. I'm expecting that doing so will help my left leg to work a lot more consistently, while making it easier for me to get some good aerobic work in.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Santa Visits Twice this Year

First off, I hope everyone had a great Christmas. On my side of things, Santa was nice enough to visit me twice this year. The first time was of course on December 25th. The second time was just the other day (more on this below).

I was up in Canada with Carol for Christmas this year. We got to drive up to Kamploops, with my parents, on the 22nd to visit my aunt and uncle that had moved up there from Vancouver. The drive was just as snowy as one might expect for the B.C. interior in winter; but with the new snow tires my dad had put on the car, things worked out really well. We certainly weren't ever in a position where we were having any troubles staying on the road. While we were in Kamloops we also got to stop by my cousin Sandy's place to visit with her, her husband Dan, and their three kids; Emily, Rachel and Julia. It was a great trip. I'm really glad we had the chance to get out of town for a bit and see some family. When you live a long ways away from family like I do now, it's extra special when you get the chance to re-connect with people.

We got to spend Christmas morning with Christy and Rich this year. Not a huge get together, but it was great to see the two of them out at my parents place for the morning.

Santa was very good to me this year. I'd been thinking about buying a new TV for a while. Now that I'm not riding my bike 10 to 15 hours per week, I've got more time on my hands to watch movies, play computer games, etc. Having my old school 32" display was starting to get to be a little much. Also, my old TV was definitely starting to get towards the end of its days. Prior to leaving for Christmas I nearly bought a Samsung 4661 (46" LCD 1080P TV), but by the time I was starting to get serious about buying one, they weren't on sale any more and it was also time to fly up to Canada. When I got back I started watching the prices again.

One thing I learned when I started looking for an LCD, was that the 120 Hz displays are noticeably nicer than the 60 Hz displays. Don't get me wrong, a 60 Hz display like the 4661 is really nice, but the 120 Hz models look even better. Friday night I finally decided I was going to make the big splash and headed down to Fry's armed with some pricing. In the end I was able to get a great deal on a Samsung 4671, which is again 46 inches, but is also a 120 Hz model. So I'm now the proud owner of a beautiful new TV:

As happy as I am, I think my entertainment center is even happier. Back when I bought the long, low profile entertainment center, I did it with the idea of putting a large TV on it one day. It waited 3 years or so to finally get a TV it could be proud to hold and that day has finally arrived.

One of my motivations for buying a large LCD was so that I could use it as my computer monitor if I wanted to. Christy was nice enough to give me a wireless keyboard and optical mouse for Christmas, so now I'm able to sit on my couch and surf the web on my TV. I can also play computer games on my TV, which is pretty darn cool. I've also been watching some of the DVDs I got for Christmas. Movies are a whole new experience with this display. I'm not sure I could ever go back to my 32" display again.